Plans for more parking at Milton GO in the works: Metrolinx

In an effort to address Milton’s GO parking woes, Metrolinx is looking to build 850 new parking spots on the south side of the tracks.

Metrolinx staff discussed the undertaking, which is still subject to approval by the province, Monday evening when they stopped by Milton Council to present details of the agency’s draft 2041 Regional Transportation Plan.

While the document itself doesn’t specify details about the additional parking, Metrolinx’s Brian Gallaugher told council about its station access plan that calls for an increase in parking spots at the Milton GO station from 1,472 to 2,322.

“Metrolinx is investigating opening up new parking lots of the south side of the tracks because that’s where most of the passengers come from,” he said.

If funding for this plan is given the go-ahead by the provincial government, it would likely take two to three years to build the additional parking capacity, he said.

“This is a short-term solution,” he said. “We expect to hear an announcement about this fairly quickly.”

The spots would not be in a parking garage, explained Gallaugher, as Metrolinx is moving away from parking structures due to their cost and permanency on valuable land around GO stations.

While Ward 7 Coun. Rick Di Lorenzo said he’s encouraged to hear Metrolinx is looking at parking on the south side of the tracks, he expressed concern about it being predicated on funding approval from the Province.

“What that could mean is funding never comes,” he said.

Local and regional Coun. Colin Best voiced his dismay about the potential two to three-year timeline to build more parking.

“We’ve built a whole hospital in less than two years,” he said, adding that the nearby Toronto Premium Outlets also had a parking garage approved and built in under two years.

Ward 8 Coun. Zeeshan Hamid said while the additional spots may fix the problem for a short period, they wouldn’t help in the long term due to Milton’s growth.

He asked if Metrolinx has considered the potential construction of a new station west of town to ease the burden at the downtown lot.

Gallaugher said that no additional stations have been approved for the Milton line under the current planning horizon to 2025.

He said that Metrolinx is aware of the two locations in town where people would like to see new stations — at Derry/Trafalgar and Tremaine/Steeles — and the organization is interested in receiving further input on where the next stations should be.

Milton will be considered in the next round of station allocations, he said, but construction on those potential future stations wouldn’t start until after 2025.

On the parking front, Metrolinx is coming to the realization that there’s an unlimited demand for parking that it just can’t meet, said Gallaugher.

In response, it’s working on a parking strategy that will look at how to get GO riders out of their cars and on local transit, bikes or even on foot to arrive at the station.

“We have to get serious about how to get people out of the park and ride situation.

It’s just not sustainable,” he said. “We just can not keep expanding the parking. There’s not enough room and it’s too expensive.”

He added that Metrolinx would like to hear from the public on its parking strategy.

Local and regional Coun. Mike Cluett stressed that public input is key on this topic that affects so many Miltonians.

“You need to hear Milton stories when it comes to transit,” he said, adding that it’s difficult to tell someone who has to pick up their child from daycare to do so on a bike.

He went on to voice his frustration with the fact the same discussions on bettering Milton GO service have been going on for a decade now.

“It just seems that Milton is pushed off down the road over and over again,” he said. “We’ve been ignored.”

Ward 5 Councillor Arnold Huffman shared similar sentiments, adding that since 2008, the only change he’s seen is a decrease in the word Milton in Metrolinx plans.

He urged the transit organization to at least implement hourly GO service so that Miltonians with young families could get back to town quickly if their child becomes ill at school, for example.

Ward 3 Coun. Cindy Lunau asked Metrolinx to look at creating a GO bus stop in the Campbellville area to benefit rural transit users, potentially at the Hwy. 401/Guelph Line park and ride lot.

At a minimum, Hamid requested that Metrolinx begin keeping the heated shelter at the Milton GO station open for two to three hours in the evening.

“In the winter, having to wait outside is a huge turnoff,” he said.

“We need to fix that. It’s common sense,” replied Gallaugher.

Metrolinx’s draft 2041 Regional Transportation Plan is open for public comment until November 13. It can be found online at www.metrolinx.com.

Town staff prepared commentary to submit on behalf of the town, which was received for information by council.

A final draft of the report will be presented to the Metrolinx board in December.

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